As you are probably now aware, unless you have been living in an entertainment hole these last couple of weeks, Dave Chapelle has caused some social justice waves with some of the content in his latest Netflix special, The Closer. In a previous special he made himself the target of the transgender community by making jokes at their expense.
Throughout The Closer he doubled down, poking fun at their labeling of him as transphobic referring to himself as transphobic. He defended Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, who has spoken out about the trans lobby’s perceived impact on the notion of “Woman”. He also shared a story about a transgender comedian who committed suicide after allegedly suffering online harassment for defending Chappelle.
Here is an example of some of the content from the show.
The backlash was almost immediate with the special being labeled as transphobic hate speech. When the Netflix CEO held the line and said it was no such thing, the tantrum reached a crescendo. Trans Netflix employees and their allies planned a walkout.
When an instigator of this leaked confidential commercial information as part of their protests, they were dismissed for misconduct. The protest was then brought forward. The walkout and rally were attended by just over 100 employees (out of 12,135). The protestors have issued a list of demands to Netflix:
- Eliminate references/imagery of Chappelle inside of the workplace, including but not limited to murals, posters, room names, swag;
- Acknowledgment that the special causes harm to the trans community and Netflix’s responsibility on it so Netflix keep the conversation around transphobia evolving internally;
- Investment in trans or non-binary content on Netflix is comparable to the total investment in transphobic content, including comparable investment in the promotion of content
- The comparable class of investments should include, but not be limited to, works produced by Dave Chappelle (such as the investment in The Closer and Sticks and Stones), Ricky Gervais’ After Life, etc.
- Investment in multiple trans creators to make both scripted and unscripted programs across genres;
- Revisit internal processes on commissioning and/or releasing potential harmful content, involving numerous and diverse parties that can speak on its harm, including consultation on 3rd party vendors;
- Revisit the ERG role in conversations around potential harmful content and develop materials to ensure we have the best in class regional support on complicated diversity issues;
- Hire transgender content executives in leading positions and promote an inclusive environment for them;
- Recruit trans people for leadership roles in the company (director, VP, etc) and promote an inclusive environment for them;
- Create the ability for Trans employees and allies to be able to remove themselves from company promotional content (e.g. allyship videos, etc.);
- A disclaimer before The Closer specifically saying it contains transphobic language, misogyny, homophobia, and hate speech;
- Boost promotion for Disclosure and other trans-affirming titles in the platform.
Netflix CEO Ted Sarandos has remained adamant that Netflix won’t be removing the special, citing the streamer’s commitment to creative freedom.
This has only made the protest group more enraged and while Sandaros has expressed some regret at the situation and said he wants to heal the rift, he has not wavered in his position that Chappelle’s special does not cross the line into hate speech.
This could very well be one of the battle lines being drawn in the developing war between so-called “woke”, progressive interests and everyone else.